Sylvia Gottwald

Sylvia Gottwald
Necklace, 2009
Black mother-of-pearl and stainless steel chainmail
Collection of Robin Kennedy, Washington D.C.

Sylvia Gottwald: Cultured Designs

April 22 through May 20, 2011

Gottwald is a Croatian-born, Harvard-trained architect who spent more than 10 years as the director of design for Washington’s Ronald Reagan International Trade Center. Just more than a decade ago, during her extensive travels, Gottwald began to collect rare shells from France, Thailand, Japan, the Phillipines and other locations. As a result, she turned her attention to wearable art, switched careers, and helped transform the traditional craft of mother-of-pearl into a contemporary form.

Juxtaposing mother-of-pearl with materials familiar from her days as an architect, Gottwald incorporates rubber, steel and other metals into the totality of her wearable designs. Surprising to some, Gottwald is sensitive to ecology and the sustainability of marine life. As such, she incorporates only those shells and pearls that can be gathered from sustainable farms such as non-endangered abalone, paua and Turbo Marmoratus shells from the Far East.

Cultured Designs showcases a cross section of materials and forms created over the last 10 years of Gottwald’s career as a jewelry designer. While many viewers will admire the beauty and elegance of her work, it is also hoped that her work will draw additional attention to the plight of the sensitive ecology of the Eastern Shore, Chesapeake Bay and overall world ecology.

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